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Responding to landslide hazards in rapidly developing Malaysia: a case of economics versus environmental protection

Ngai Weng Chan (Associate Professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 March 1998



Malaysia is an ex‐colonial, newly‐industrialising country, with a sustained high economic growth rate averaging eight per cent GDP per annum over the past ten years. Within such a rapidly booming economy, the pace of social, economic and political change is fast, as is the pace of technological change. Other things being equal, these are the changes in which environmental hazards can be magnified. As a result of rapid economic development, physical systems are disturbed and changed. For example, the modification of the hydrological cycle due to deforestation, urbanisation, development of hill slopes and other human land use have given rise to increased risks of landslides. In recent years, the collapse of a block of luxury condominiums in Kuala Lumpur, the Genting Highland and Pos Dipang landslide tragedies as well as other landslide disasters have caused substantial loss of life and damage to property and infrastructure. Combined with intensive development of hill slopes and hill land for housing, recreation, tourism, agriculture, highway and dam construction, and other human induced land use changes, the exposure and vulnerability of human populations to landslide hazards have also increased. Other reasons, largely structural, such as persistent poverty, low residential and occupational mobility, and landlessness, manifested in illegal squatting and farming on hill slopes and foothills have also contributed to increased vulnerability of large communities to landslide hazards in many parts of the country. As Malaysia pushes ahead to meet its target of becoming a fully industrialised country by the year 2020, further environmental degradation is expected to occur. Notwithstanding other aspects of environmental degradation, the occurrence of landslide hazards is expected to become a common feature of Malaysian life.



Weng Chan, N. (1998), "Responding to landslide hazards in rapidly developing Malaysia: a case of economics versus environmental protection", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 14-27.




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